The NBA star was among nine people, including his daughter Gianna, who died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California on Sunday (January 26).
With the 2020 Grammys taking place in LA on the same day, tributes to Bryant and those who died in the crash became a sombre and spontaneous part of the ceremony as the likes of Lizzo and Lil Nas X incorporated Bryant tributes into their respective live performances.
Keys, who hosted this year’s Grammys, was joined on stage by Boyz II Men to perform the 1975 Motown song ‘It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday’, which the boyband first covered back in 1991.
Speaking on The Ellen Degeneres Show this week about the tribute, Keys revealed that her performance with Boyz II Men was organised in a very short space of time.
“We were all freaking out because obviously hearing the news about Kobe and his daughter was so tragic and none of us can still believe it right now to this day,” Keys said.
“It was definitely a crazy feeling because literally minutes before we were going to do something else and we had to really figure out, ‘How could we properly honour him in his house on this night?’
“It just so happened that Boyz II Men were there already that night, and we wanted to do something special and create something that felt like it was the right thing.”
Keys opened the Grammys on Sunday by addressing Bryant’s death.
“To be honest with you, we’re all feeling crazy sadness right now because earlier today, Los Angeles, America and the whole wide world lost a hero,” she said. “We’re literally standing here heartbroken in the house that Kobe Bryant built.”